How much the earmark might increase the value of the land remains unclear. The local assessor told the Times that "values will go up" once the bridge is built, and the paper talked to one man who'd recently bought a plot near Reid's, who told them he's "sure [the proposed bridge] has already had a positive influence" on the his land's value.
As a counterpoint, Reid's office referred the Times to Robert Bilbray, a developer in the area -- and apparently the brother of Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) -- who told them that the idea that the bridge would affect local land values was "ludicrous." The bridge's precise location is yet to be determined, and according to Reid's office, one possible location would place it on the other side of a current bridge over the Colorado.
But strange details about Reid's land deals don't end there: in 2002, Clair Haycock -- a friend of Reid's who had co-owned the plot with the senator -- sold Reid his portion for $10,000, when the county assessor had valued the plot at $339,620. As an explanation, Haycock (of Las Vegas' Haycock Petroleum Co.) said in an e-mail that he "needed to sell his share to liquidate a company pension plan, which owned the property." He added that he "'expected nothing from Sen. Reid" in return for selling him the property.
On Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the paper accompanies their piece on Reid with one showing that she's an able porker, bringing millions back to her district.
Both Pelosi and Reid have vowed to introduce legislation that would force lawmakers to identify themselves as the sponsors of their pet projects, ending the era of the anonymous earmark.
Update: From Reid spokeswoman Rebecca Kirszner, explaining Reid's support for the bridge project:
"After 9/11, the Hoover Dam crossing near Laughlin was closed due to security concerns. While the road has been re-opened to small cars, trucks are still required to drive 23 miles out of their way to the next bridge over the Colorado River, a bridge that is not big enough to accommodate the increased bypass and local traffic. Harry Reid worked With the City of Laughlin to secure a federal funding for an additional bridge in the area and alleviate the traffic conditions."